Paul Daoust is Founder & Managing Director at Scio Asset Management where he is on a mission to give operational leaders a framework to reach superior strategic goals. Mike Petrusky asks Paul about his philosophy and how he helps courageous leaders have the agency to direct their organization’s activities to deliver full value in their operations. They discuss the origins of ScioAM and why it is important to empower operational leaders to SEE. THINK. DECIDE. ACT. Mike and Paul explore the trends and challenges in the world of asset management and they discuss how both leaders and practitioners can work together to solve problems and make the right decisions. This is the first of a two-part series.
Full Podcast Transcript
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Mike Petrusky: This is the Asset Champion podcast, where we talk with facilities, maintenance and asset management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by the iOFFICE asset division, delivering easy-to-use maintenance management software tools to help you drive powerful asset performance.
Mike Petrusky: Hey everybody, and welcome back to the Asset Champion podcast. I am your host, Mike Petrusky. It’s always great to have you here and whether you are joining us for the first time or you’re a long-time listener to the show, thank you so much for tuning in. I certainly hope you will share this show with a friend or a colleague. Check us out over on Apple Podcasts, leave us a rating and review. That always helps, because we want to get the word out about this program and the opportunity to talk with industry leaders in the world of asset management. This week, we are not going to disappoint you. I have another great guest joining me from north of the border in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Everybody, please say hello to Paul Daoust. Hi, Paul.
Paul Daoust: Hi Mike, how you doing? Thanks for having me on the show.
Mike Petrusky: It is great to have you. Another friend from the PEMAC community, right?
Paul Daoust: Yeah. PEMAC is the Asset Management Association of Canada. I’ve been a member of that for many years. I was on the board for about six years until recently, yeah.
Mike Petrusky: So, you know some of my favorite people, Suzane Greeman and Susan Lubell-
Paul Daoust: I do.
Mike Petrusky: Absolutely. A repeat visitor to the Asset Champion podcast, so you’re among great company. Welcome aboard.
Paul Daoust: Thank you very much.
Mike Petrusky: Paul is founder and managing director at Scio Asset Management. Paul, I love the name of the company and your logo is really cool. What’s the octopus symbolize?
Paul Daoust: Yeah, the octopus. That was quite deliberate, actually. They’re fascinating creatures, right? They’re very intelligent, they’re very adaptable. But, the key feature that I like about them is they have multiple nervous systems. They’ve kind of got the central nervous system, the brain and the head and the mouth and whatnot. But then, they’ve got their tentacles and each of those tentacles have kind of a semi-autonomous nervous system. They can work kind of independently. That’s kind of analogous in industry, to maybe the head office and the work at site. Everybody kind of needs to work together in asset management to create value. So, my business model very closely resembles an octopus, in that there’s some central features to it, but then each of the practices, it’s integrated, but each of them can kind of stand on their own.
Mike Petrusky: Really cool. That’s a great visual and a metaphor for what we’re dealing with in this very complex world. I love it. Calgary, I have never been, but I hear it’s a beautiful place. Are you from there originally? Long-time resident, or how did you end up where you are?
Paul Daoust: Yeah, I’ve been here almost 20 years. Actually, I grew up in the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. All my life in Western Canada and yeah, it is a beautiful place. It’s near the mountains. Calgary, I kind of describe it to my American friends as being the location of Denver with the attitude of Texas.
Mike Petrusky: Big oil and gas town up there, right?
Paul Daoust: It is. Yeah, it is. It is. There’s a bit of a’don’t mess with Texas’- type attitude in Alberta as well.
Mike Petrusky: I love it.
Paul Daoust: But, I love it here. It’s a great place to live.
Mike Petrusky: Are cowboy boots and hats part of the deal up there?
Paul Daoust: Oh, absolutely. Of course, every year we have the Calgary Stampede, so that is resuming this year. I’m not sure if it’s going to be fully back to normal, but looking forward to it.
Mike Petrusky: Very cool. Well, you mentioned the mountains. Susan Lubell is a big fan of hiking and the Rocky Mountains. We had a great conversation about that. Check out our past episode, folks, with Susan. I sang a little John Denver, Rocky Mountain High. You got to look for that.
Paul Daoust: I heard that. That was awesome.
Mike Petrusky: Well, listen, Paul, I want to get to know you a little bit before we get into the topic at hand. I can’t wait to learn more about your experience in the world of asset management, but tell us a little bit more about yourself. How did you end up where you are today?
Paul Daoust: Well, it’s a bit of a long and sordid story. I’ve got over 25 years of experience, mostly in the energy and, specifically, power sectors. I’ve tried to remain a generalist and, as a practitioner at least, do a variety of different things throughout my career. I started as commissioning, I’ve done a lot of plant engineering, project engineering, maintenance, reliability, lifecycle and investment planning. Process safety. I’ve tried to kind of sharpen my skills across a wide variety of things. I’ve discovered along the way that I like to work across organizations, not just be shoehorned into kind of one particular role. We mentioned already, my work with PEMAC, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different people across a lot of different organizations and industries. I find a lot of commonality in some of our challenges and a lot of our organizations are good, but not necessarily great. Often, they have a mixed bag of practice quality. They’re often, in industrial sectors, making money. It’s not all just about money, but what I’ve observed is there is significant amount of value leakage. I kind of made it my mission to understand the sources of those value leakage and try to rout them out as much as I can.
Mike Petrusky: Interesting. Well, I can’t wait to learn more about your philosophy and your approach. It sounds like there’s a lot of opportunity in the marketplace for your business. Also, some challenges that I want to help my audience address. So, I look forward to hearing your commentary on that. But, Paul, you said you’ve heard the show, before we get too far, I got to ask you my favorite question, because it gives me a quick insight into your personality. Tell me, what kind of music gets you inspired?
Paul Daoust: I have a pretty wide and varied taste in music, but one of the artists that I really enjoy is Beck. Part of the reason is because I find that he doesn’t confine himself to any particular genre. He can be pop, he can be folk, can be electro-
Mike Petrusky: Yeah, really diverse.
Paul Daoust: Whatever. That appeals to me, because as I said, I’ve resisted every attempt to specialize. I think that’s made me a very broad and well- rounded individual professionally. My style is very collaborative and integrative. I like to work across the organization, as I said. I find when you do that, you can integrate. Your work together can be more than the sum of its parts.
Mike Petrusky: Excellent. Of course, the biggest hit from Beck that I remember is probably, I hope not your theme song, where he goes-
Paul Daoust: “I’m a loser, baby.”
Mike Petrusky: “I’m a loser, baby.”
Paul Daoust: That’s a great song. That’s not my theme song-
Mike Petrusky: Good, good.
Paul Daoust: It’s actually funny, the theme song for my business I’ve kind of adopted is from a band called Little Hurricane and they’ve got a song called Bad Business-
Mike Petrusky: Oh, nice.
Paul Daoust: That is kind of interesting. Yeah.
Mike Petrusky: I’ll have to check that out. Put that on my Spotify playlist. Well, let’s take a moment and inspire the audience here, Paul. Do you have a favorite motivational quote you could share with us?
Paul Daoust: Yeah, certainly do. It’s one that’s kind of guided a lot of what I do. It’s a quote by W. Edwards Deming, one of the godfathers of quality management. Initially in Japan, but more broadly, operational management globally. The quote is, “Every system is perfectly designed to get you the results you get.”
The reason I like that is because what it’s really saying is that you get what you deserve, in the fullness of time. We like to talk about, “What are your kind of skills and superpowers?” Mine, over the years, has been able to spot the value leakage in organizations. To see the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in what we do and what results we get. I think this is true of 90% of the organizations who are not currently operationally excellent. Once you see the value leakage, he can’t unsee it. I’m always fascinated with our leadership and our practitioners and our organizations. How we strive for more, but it’s very difficult to actually get there. So, that’s kind of driving me, is to identify and go after that value leakage that we have in our organizations.
Mike Petrusky: Good stuff. Excellent, yeah. I like that. Let’s roll into it and get more understanding of your philosophy and approach to business at Scio Asset Management. Tell me a little bit more about how you view the industry and the discipline of asset management and what you focus on.
Paul Daoust: Well, asset management is very broad. If you look at the asset management landscape, that Global Forum for Maintenance Asset Management document, there’s 39 subjects of asset management. In addition to that, there’s fundamentals and some other aspects that are important. But, my definition is, asset management means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That’s usually the first question you need to understand, is,”What does it mean to you?” Because, at worst, one of my friends likes to say,” Asset management just means,’Fix my maintenance.'”
But, my view is very broad. It’s holistic and it’s strategic. It’s the whole thing. It’s the whole discipline. I like to put it in terms of operations, because a lot of, and certainly my own experience and my customers, are more of the industrial variety. The fundamentals and the principles apply as well to other infrastructure- type organizations. But, I’ve found, in operations, you have that additional complexity that exists in the organization. You can’t build an asset management system in and of itself, because it needs to be integrated to the operational management system, or it will fail. I find a lot of practitioners aren’t considering that fully, in how they’re offering asset management as a practice. How they’re trying to deliver it. Yeah, I mean, I think the challenge for leadership in these organizations, which are very complex, there’s no getting around it. They are complex. There’s lots of moving parts. There’s lots of different functions.
The organization’s vast. But, the challenge for senior operational leaders is to manage as a whole. That means managing both the day- to- day activities, as well as the improvement activities. That’s difficult. These leaders, they have vast and scarce resources, but their job, the job to be done, is to maximize the value from their assets, for their stakeholders. That’s why I focus a lot on the value leakage, because that’s the value that they’re not getting today that they could.
So, as I mentioned, I focus a lot on operational leadership. My definition of leadership is very, very broad. It could be leader practitioners, it could be operations line leadership, but, the key to leadership is in good decision- making. What are the important questions that these leaders are asking of their organization? How fully and completely are our practitioners answering those questions? I think that’s the key to success. If you can frame that around decision- making, I think you’ve got a framework for success. We’re all trying to achieve operational excellence, as kind of business results, but the truth is, I don’t think we all agree on what needs to be done to get there.
That’s where the challenge is. We nod our heads that we’re all aligned in our organizations, but I think the truth is that there’s a lot of misalignment. I think the objectives and what’s being asked of leadership can be quite a bit different, of what’s being asked of the practitioners. I think that’s an area that, I find it my job to try to align. To try and kind of become a bridge between those two areas. Because sometimes, there is kind of a chasm there. I’m trying to build solutions to help leaders see, think, decide and act. Interestingly, there’s no shortage of people, whether you’re leaders or practitioners, who want to act. We’re kind of taught that we take action, we do things, we get stuff done, we deliver.
But, what I’ve observed is that there’s just not enough time and effort and energy put into the first three of those words. The see, the think, decide. I’m trying to kind of back, particularly leaders up. Say,” Well, let’s be very deliberate and cognizant about what’s going on. How should we think about things and what decisions do we make to deploy our vast and scarce resources, to create more value from the same assets with fewer resources?” Because that’s what we owe our stakeholders, right?
I’ve kind of found, more recently, that my approach seems to be quite orthogonal to what’s going on in many organizations today. How many leaders, practitioners, even service consultants and solution providers are kind of operating in the asset management space. I’ll also say that the kind of things that I promote, it isn’t the basics. It isn’t just maintenance and reliability. I think, for what I’m trying to offer, it’s for progressive organizations who really want, truly, to seek operational excellence. It’s for courageous leaders who are willing to do something different, to go get it on their operational excellence odyssey. Look, it’s not for everyone. I think that it requires a certain level of maturity first. It’s kind of that next level. Now that you’ve kind of mastered your maintenance and some of your reliability practices, what takes you to the next level? That’s kind of what I’m focusing on.
Mike Petrusky: There you have it, everybody. Just the beginning of what Paul Daoust of Scio Asset Management had to share with us. There was so much great stuff I couldn’t edit down to fit into just one podcast episode. So, this will be part one of what is now a two- part podcast series. Please join me again next week, as Paul continues to share what he sees as some of the major trends in the world of asset management and the challenges that we face in this industry. He has a lot of great experience and interesting insights around how to deal with the complexity in the world of asset management problem-solving and decision- making.
In fact, he takes a really deep dive into the philosophy of one of his favorite book authors and how we can apply that philosophy to our decision- making in our organizations. You don’t want to miss it. Tune in again next Friday, part two is coming your way. In the meantime, we’ve got some great live broadcasts on the schedule. If you missed last week’s episode, check out episode 49. I gave a preview of what’s coming up in the next few months. Starting next week, as I interview author John Fortin.
We’ll take a deeper dive into his book called Why Execution Fails and What to Do About It. It’s on June 29th, right around the corner. You don’t want to miss that. Then, in July, I’ve got Suzane Greeman coming back for a live discussion around asset risk drivers. Beyond that, Lucas Marino will join me again in August for more of his thoughts around project management and logistics engineering. So many great experts, so many great, fun personalities. You don’t want to miss it. Check out assetchampion.com. If you’re not already a subscriber to our blog, please do so there. We’ll keep you informed of all that is coming up. Until then, thank you for joining me today as we continue on our journey together to encourage and inspire each other to be an Asset Champion. Peace out.
Mike Petrusky: You’ve been listening to the Asset Champion podcast. We hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to elevate asset management success by improving efficiency, reducing costs and building best practices. For more information about how the iOFFICE Asset Division can boost the performance of your physical assets by providing comprehensive enterprise asset management software solutions, please visit assetchampion.com.
Connect with Paul on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-daoust-12554b11/
Learn more about Scio Asset Management: https://www.scioam.com/
Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/
Learn more about the iOFFICE Asset Division and explore more interviews at: https://www.assetchampion.com/
Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com